5 things that La Liga's first two matchdays have taught us
1. Valencia will struggle to stay afloat
Let's start at the bottom – the very bottom.
A troubling dark cloud has hovered over Mestalla since the start of last term, and now – a year later – they've finally reached the nadir. Valencia find themselves 20th in Spain's 20-team top flight, with the loss of a number of key men over the summer suggesting this might be more than a temporary blip.
Although los Che have had some bright moments going forward in their opening two matches, they've struggled to put the ball in the net. Pako Ayestaran's men had 11 more shots than their opponents yet still contrived to lose to a much more efficient Las Palmas outfit (more on them later), while Eibar also managed to edge out Gary Neville's old side last time out.
Arsenal new boy Shkodran Mustafi will be sorely missed in the heart of the backline, even if Ezequiel Garay and Eliaquim Mangala look to be solid replacements. Paco Alcacer, who joined Barcelona, could be the bigger loss. Where will Valencia's goals come from now? (Well, judge for yourselves with the video below.)
2. Atletico might implode
If we continue like this, we're going to be fighting against relegation
At least that's what Antoine Griezmann would have you believe. "If we continue like this," the melodramatic Frenchman mused after Atletico Madrid's second successive draw against a newly promoted team, "we're going to be fighting against relegation."
Alaves equalize against Atletico
That certainly won't happen, but their poor start to the season has already damaged their title credentials. Last season, Atletico were a terrific team that lacked a natural line-leading center-forward who could score goals on a regular basis. The signing of Kevin Gameiro seemed to rectify that problem, but Diego Simeone's men haven't got going as of yet. While their opening-day draw against Alaves could be put down to bad luck, their failure to beat Leganes was solely down to their own poor performance.
This year's edition of La Liga looks to have more parity than many of those that have gone before, and Atletico are expected to again challenge the Big Two for the championship crown. A four-point deficit at this early stage clearly isn't fatal, but Atleti finishing outside the top three isn't that far-fetched, either.
3. Real Madrid’s lack of midfield cover could be problematic
Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad have had success in harrying Casemiro in the last couple of weeks, with the 24-year-old guilty of ceding possession on a number of occasions
There may be a feel-good factor surrounding Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid at present, but the European champions aren't without their issues – chief among them the question of whether Casemiro is good enough for a side with designs on the treble.
The Brazilian works hard and his ability to protect the back four brings vital balance to this Madrid side, but he also has his limitations. He's not the most gifted in possession, which invites opponents to close him down quickly and in turn puts more pressure on Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, who both have to be wary about their team-mate losing the ball.
Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad have had success in harrying Casemiro in the last couple of weeks, with the 24-year-old guilty of ceding possession on a number of occasions. Zidane will have to be mindful of this in the weeks and months to come – particularly against pressing machines like Borussia Dortmund – and Madrid may come to rue their failure to purchase another defensive midfielder in the summer.
4. Arda Turan is rejuvenated at Barcelona
This season, Arda's been used as part of the front three rather than the middle three - and Barca are reaping the rewards
Barcelona added greater depth to their squad in the summer, which should allow them to rest and rotate key players towards the business end of the campaign. New center-back Samuel Umtiti has been solid next to Gerard Pique and allowed Javier Mascherano to ease himself back after another busy summer with Argentina, while Paco Alcacer will provide vital cover for Luis Suarez – something Barça didn't have in 2015/16.
The biggest difference in the Catalans' squad, however, has come in the shape of a player who was already at the Camp Nou. Arda Turan's debut year at Barcelona was rather underwhelming, with his own style of play seemingly unsuited to that of his new team's. This time around, the Turk has been used as part of the front three rather than the middle three – and Barça are reaping the rewards.
Neymar will be available for selection again after the international break, and Barcelona's attacking trident won't be renamed 'MSA' anytime soon. Arda's emergence in an advanced role is certainly significant, though, and the former Atletico man could have a big role to play in 2016/17.
Arda scores against Real Betis
5. Las Palmas could qualify for Europe
Las Palmas's defeat of Valencia at Mestalla on the opening weekend was no fluke, as was proven a week later when they thrashed a rudderless Granada side 5-1. Las Palmas are La Liga's leaders, and while they probably won't stay at the summit for long, they could certainly compete for the European spots.
Kevin-Prince Boateng has been particularly excellent in their first two matches, with the Germany-born Ghana international looking revitalized after a tricky couple of years.